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UNMIK Media Observer, Morning Edition, May 26

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• Six new cases of coronavirus in last 24 hours (media)
• Covid-19: New eased measures to enter into force Thursday (media)
• Kurti: Unacceptable for President to write the Constitution (Telegrafi)
• Thaci accuses Kurti of ‘usurping’ PM’s office (Koha)
• Kurti reiterates calls for elections (media)
• Osmani: It is clear there was no need for state of emergency (media)
• Weber: EU reclaiming Kosovo-Serbia dialogue (Koha)
• Kurti and Zaev agree land swaps are dangerous (media)
• Grenell remains envoy for Kosovo-Serbia negotiations (media)
• In Brussels, Lajcak meets six Western Balkans ambassadors (RFE)
• Acting PM Kurti meets CEC head Daka (media)

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  • Six new cases of coronavirus in last 24 hours (media)
  • Covid-19: New eased measures to enter into force Thursday (media)
  • Kurti: Unacceptable for President to write the Constitution (Telegrafi)
  • Thaci accuses Kurti of ‘usurping’ PM’s office (Koha)
  • Kurti reiterates calls for elections (media)
  • Osmani: It is clear there was no need for state of emergency (media)
  • Weber: EU reclaiming Kosovo-Serbia dialogue (Koha)
  • Kurti and Zaev agree land swaps are dangerous (media)
  • Grenell remains envoy for Kosovo-Serbia negotiations (media)
  • In Brussels, Lajcak meets six Western Balkans ambassadors (RFE)
  • Acting PM Kurti meets CEC head Daka (media)

Kosovo Media Highlights

Six new cases of coronavirus in last 24 hours (media)

Kosovo’s National Institute for Public Health announced that of 243 tests carried out yesterday, six have tested positive for coronavirus.

All the six new cases are from the municipality of Prizren.

Media meanwhile report that two persons were declared as having recovered from the virus on Monday while a 59-year-old man from Prizren died. He was being treated at the Infectious Clinic in Pristina.

Covid-19: New eased measures to enter into force Thursday (media)

Kosovo’s acting Minister of Health Arben Vitia announced at a news conference that as of Thursday, 28 May, citizens’ movement will not be restricted and they will be able to go out anytime between 5 a.m. and 9 p.m.

Vitia also said that places of worship will be reopened on Thursday and that the quarantine centre at the students’ dormitory in Pristina is expected to be closed by the end of the month. He said additional relaxation measures are set to be introduced in the third stage that starts on 1 June.

At the same time, acting Prime Minister of Kosovo is quoted by Telegrafi as saying in an interview with Tirana-based Ora News that the decision about reopening Kosovo-Albania border will be taken this week. He said this would be based on the recommendations from the National Public Health Institute.

Kurti: Unacceptable for President to write the Constitution (Telegrafi)

Acting Prime Minister of Kosovo Albin Kurti said in an interview with Tirana-based Ora News that the Constitutional Court should remain within its scope of activity in interpreting the Constitution and not trying to rewrite it.

“We now have the tendency of the President of Kosovo to amend the Constitution and this should not be accepted by the Constitutional Court under any circumstance. This is not merely about a government but about every future government, it is about the republican and democratic order, the constitutional logic. The President of the Republic cannot write the Constitution, but respects and implements it alike the prime minister and the Constitutional Court. And even though the Constitutional Court can interpret the Constitution, again, it cannot write it,” he said.

Kurti also accused Thaci of pressuring the Constitutional Court. “There is pressure on the Constitutional Court because the President insults the prime minister on daily basis, he attacks and slanders him. The Constitutional Court judges have sworn an oath before the President. The President, according to the Constitution, should represent the will and the unity of the people, he should in no way come outside of what is common with the citizens and the general interest.”

Kurti insisted that the threat against him from the so-called Albanian Voluntary Guard is real and not fabricated as claimed by President Hashim Thaci. “The President said I wrote the threat against myself [and] if he has such facts he needs to be urgently interviewed by the prosecution. But this did not happen. The state of Kosovo has not yet been liberated from these abusers. We have a new government but not new institutions.”

Thaci accuses Kurti of ‘usurping’ PM’s office (Koha)

President of Kosovo, Hashim Thaci, accused acting Prime Minister Albin Kurti of usurping the post.

“We all need to focus in fully respecting the constitutionality and legality; unfortunately we have a man that has usurped the office of the prime minister and after two serious constitutional violations he is acting as an outlaw in the Kosovo political scene,” Thaci said in a visit to Dubrava prison in commemoration of Albanian prisoners killed there in 21 years ago by Serbian forces.

He added that the decision of the Constitutional Court needs to be respected. “I have always respected [them], whether I have liked them or not.”

Kurti reiterates calls for elections (media)

Acting Prime Minister of Kosovo Albin Kurti said that an institutional stalemate can appear only when the option of elections is ruled out.

In a Facebook post, Kurti wrote: “In line with our Constitution, new elections are required. They are already taking place across Europe. Health of democracy is second to the health of the population and economy. Elections will take place in June in Iceland, France, and Serbia, and in July in North Macedonia, Spain, and Croatia. We have to have elections in Kosovo too as well as local ones in Podujeva. In fact, they could take place simultaneously.”

Osmani: It is clear there was no need for state of emergency (media)

Kosovo Assembly Speaker Vjosa Osmani in an interview with T7 said that it has become clear that there was no need to declare a state of emergency as requested by President Hashim Thaci as a response to the Covid-19 pandemic.

She said that such a possible proposal would have to be sent to the Assembly for approval and that “security experts said it was not necessary to declare a state of emergency.”

Speaking about the dialogue with Serbia, Osmani said that she doesn’t see a problem with Thaci’s presence in the process but stressed that he should not be leading it.

Weber: EU reclaiming Kosovo-Serbia dialogue (Koha)

Bodo Weber, senior associate with the Berlin-based Democratization Policy Council, said that Germany’s and France’s announcement of increased involvement in the dialogue between Kosovo and Serbia should not be interpreted as a call for immediate resumption of talks.

Speaking about the recent joint op-ed by foreign ministers of Germany and France, Weber said that it is “a strong recommendation from Berlin and Paris to take the lead role in the dialogue and underline that the dialogue was and remains facilitated by the EU.”

“Second, the most important sentence in my view is the insistence that ‘there are no shortcuts and no quick fixes’,” Weber said.

Germany’s Heiko Maas and France’s Jean-Yves Le Drian said in their editorial that goal of the dialogue should be to reach a sustainable, comprehensive, legally binding agreement between Belgrade and Pristina that solves all open issues and contributes to regional stability.

“We are aware of the numerous open questions that must be solved before reaching an agreement. There are no shortcuts and no quick fixes. A serious approach requires well-structured, in-depth negotiations, with the EU as an honest broker. More robust mediation and political resolve are needed – something you can expect from Miroslav Lajčak and his team – with the backing of High Representative Borrell, as well as of Berlin and Paris,” they said.

Kurti and Zaev agree land swaps are dangerous (media)

Acting Prime Minister of Kosovo Albin Kurti had a telephone conversation with leader of the Social Democratic Union of Macedonia and former North Macedonia Prime Minister, Zoran Zaev, and discussed cooperation and management of the Covid-19 pandemic.

“In a phone call with @Zoran_Zaev, leader of the SDUM, we shared the same view on the need for continued cooperation between WB countries and we agreed that land-swaps are harmful and we oppose them. The goal of our countries is #EU integration & Trans-Atlantic partnership,” Kurti wrote on Twitter after the meeting.

Kurti also spoke to acting Prime Minister of North Macedonia Oliver Spasovski and agreed on the need for coordinated efforts to protect citizens from Covid-19 and for strengthening relations.

Grenell remains envoy for Kosovo-Serbia negotiations (media)

Richard Grenell is expected to remain in the post of U.S. presidential envoy for Kosovo-Serbia negotiations even though media reported that will not return to his ambassadorial post in Germany.

“Ambassador Grenell remains presidential envoy and looks forward to next dialogue discussion, as soon as the new composition of the government is decided,” Grenell’s spokesperson Dick Custin told the media.

In Brussels, Lajcak meets six Western Balkans ambassadors (RFE)

EU Special Representative for dialogue between Kosovo and Serbia, Miroslav Lajcak, met in Brussels ambassadors from the Western Balkans countries.

“Good to speak to all six Western Balkan Ambassadors to the EU on my very first day in Brussels. We had a constructive discussion about the situation in the region and the EU integration process. And I informed them about my plans going forward,” Lajcak wrote on Twitter.

Radio Free Europe quotes sources in Brussels as saying that in the meeting Lajcak said that the political situation in Kosovo needs to be clarified before the process of dialogue resumes.

Acting PM Kurti meets CEC head Daka (media)

Acting Prime Minister of Kosovo Albin Kurti met yesterday the head of the Central Election Commission (CEC) Valdete Daka.

According to a press release issued by PM’s Office, the two discussed the functioning of the CEC and increase of cooperation. “Although in a pandemic, the CEC is ready to exercise its public and institutional authority. Daka informed the acting prime minister about preparations for mayoral elections in the municipality of Podujeva,” the statement reads.

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